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Charlaine Harris – Living Dead in Dallas

September 29, 2009

115. Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris (2002)
Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 2

Read my review of:
– Book 1, Dead Until Dark

Length: 291 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Romance

Started: 19 September 2009
Finished: 19 September 2009

Where did it come from? Amazon – I bought the box set.
Why do I have it? I am thoroughly addicted to True Blood the show, and I thought the first book was a ton of fun.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 10 September 2009 (well, mentally a lot longer, but I had to wait before Season 2 had finished airing before I’d let myself buy and read book 2.)
Verdict? Keeper.

Road trip! It’s Sookie
does Dallas
… but not like that.
Telepathically. :)

Summary: Sookie Stackhouse is not having a good time of it. After narrowly escaping being murdered (at the end of Dead Until Dark), all she wants is a quiet life in her quiet Northern Louisiana town. But, being telepathic – and dating a vampire – don’t normally lend themselves to the quiet life. First, one of Sookie’s coworkers turns up dead in the parking lot of Merlotte’s bar, and then Sookie is attacked in the woods by a mysterious – and highly poisonous – creature. After the vampires save her life, she owes them a favor, so she agrees to go to Dallas, where a powerful vampire has gone missing, and a vampire-hating church is gaining power. Sookie’s job is to use her abilities to determine if the two are connected… but she might be placing herself in more danger than she imagined.

Review: I think the Sookie Stackhouse books have all of the ingredients needed to be perfect literary junk food: fast-paced with plenty of action; a good mixture of funny and serious and sexy and thoroughly campy; likable characters; and the perfect guilty-pleasure sense of knowing there’s something out there that you could be reading that’s probably better for you, but it’s so compelling and so much fun that you just can’t stop reading.

While Living Dead in Dallas did improve on Dead Until Dark in some ways – for instance, the writing seemed smoother and more confident, although there were still occasional turns of phrase that caught my ear badly – overall, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first book. I think that was mostly to do with the plotting; it’s a weird structure where the initial plot (the murder and the maenad in the woods) is dropped pretty quickly, then the entire main plot (Sookie in Dallas) plays out, and then the plot from the beginning of the book is picked up again and resolved unrealistically quickly. It makes the book as a whole kind of feel like it was smooshed together out of leftover pieces that weren’t big enough to fill a novel by themselves, and the result is uneven and weird. For all of the book vs. movie debaters out there, this is one point in the TV show’s favor: we’re not limited to Sookie’s first-person perspective, so the Bon Temps storyline can be continuously developed even while Sookie’s out of town.

There are numerous other differences between the way the various storylines play out in Season 2 of True Blood and Living Dead in Dallas, although there are parts where the dialogue is lifted almost word-for-word from the book. For the most part, I don’t think the changes make the TV show any better or any worse than the show – just different; different media, telling related-but-different stories, focusing on different characters and different angles. I am, however, sad that the outfit Harris has Eric wearing to the bacchanal at the end of the book didn’t make its way onto my TV screen. :)

So, while this book did have some pacing problems, and wasn’t entirely polished, it was still a bunch of fun. I tore through it in the space of a single afternoon, and plan to dive into the next book in the series as soon as possible. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: A friend who’s read the whole series says Living Dead in Dallas is probably the weakest, and I hope she’s right. Even so, it’s a lot of fun, and paranormal romance fans – as well as those of us who appreciate the occasional trashy brain-candy read – are likely to get a kick out of it.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Another Great Read, Arch Thinking, Avidbookreader, Bailey’s and Books, Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell, Books and Other Thoughts, Books and So Many More Books, Confessions of a Bibliophile, Desert Rose’s Booklogue, Eclectic/Eccentric, Everyday Reads, I’m Booking It, J. Kaye’s Book Blog, Love Vampires, Medieval Bookworm, Melissa’s Bookshelf, Nomad Reader, The Novel World, Paperback Passion, Queen of Happy Endings, Racy Romance Reviews, Reading Adventures, Reading Comes From Writing, Romance Rookie, Storytime with Tonya and Friends, Ulat Buku in the City, Unmainstream Mom Reads, Vixen’s Daily Reads, Whimpulsive
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Andy Bellefleur was as drunk as a skunk.

Cover Thoughts: I actually can’t say much about these covers – do I love them artistically? No. Have I seen them so often that they’ve become pretty iconic for the series as a whole, and thus seem totally appropriate? Heck yeah.

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • p. 18: “I was ashamed of that, since after all, we were there because a man we knew had died, but it was undeniable that after straightening up the storeroom, cleaning out Sam’s office, and playing several hands of bourre (Sam won five dollars and change) we were all ready to see someone new.” – a trick-taking gambling card game (similar to Spades or Euchre) primarily played in the Acadiana region of Louisiana.
    .
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14 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2009 4:54 am

    Hi. Thanks for linking my review to your blog! Happy Reading.

  2. September 29, 2009 7:08 am

    Love the series :)
    My favorites are books #4, #7 and #8
    I haven’t read 9 yet so I can’t judge that one :)
    You will find that 2 is better than 1, book 3 is better than 2, then book 4 is a blast :)
    You will find Sookie and all the characters growing on you ;)

    This is my review of book 2, I linked to yours so I hope you don’t mind :)

    http://desertrosebooklogue.blogspot.com/2008/12/living-dead-in-dallas-by-charlaine.html

  3. September 29, 2009 8:53 am

    I’m doing the Sookie challenge, so I need to get started with these books. They do sound like good, mindless fun.

    • October 1, 2009 5:06 pm

      bermudaonion – They really, really are. Perfect after a long day/week when all you need is something light and entertaining.

  4. September 29, 2009 12:10 pm

    I’m be reviewing this book shortly, myself. I feel the opposite as you, I liked Living Dead in Dallas better than the first book, probably because the writing was smoother.

    I just finished watching the first season of True Blood and I loved it! Now, I’m trying to figure out how to watch the second season without getting HBO. Ideas?

    • October 1, 2009 5:07 pm

      Tracie Yule – The writing was smoother, definitely, but the jumpy plot bothered me. As per the second season… if you don’t have friends with HBO… hmmm.

  5. September 29, 2009 1:58 pm

    You have the whole box set. I am so envious. I have only read the first one so far. I shall make a note that the second one is the weakest.

    • October 1, 2009 5:08 pm

      vivienne – Just my opinion, of course, there are people who think the 1st is the weakest… but I think it is safe to say that they generally improve as they go!

  6. September 29, 2009 9:52 pm

    I can’t seem to get interested in this series, but I want to watch the series…

    • October 1, 2009 5:09 pm

      Kailana – The series is what got me hooked on the books… so much trashy, campy fun. And packed from wall to wall with pretty people, too. ;)

  7. October 2, 2009 7:54 am

    Oh that really bothered me as well. She started a mystery and then left in the middle of it! I mean, the time in Dallas was interesting and so was the whole maenad thing but couldn’t she have put it off until after the trip was over? It works SO much better with the show, I wonder if the story would have benefitted bouncing back and forth like that? I don’t think Harris writes like that in any of her series that I can recall though (which is sometimes a blessing!).

    I envy you for being able to read this for the first time :)

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